From 33 ‘events’ to functioning of our N-plants, here is what country’s nuclear watchdog has to say PLUS A RARE PHOTO

RARE IMAGE OF India's atomic energy watchdog, the AERB, in Mumbai
RARE IMAGE OF India’s atomic energy watchdog, the AERB, in Mumbai

The Annual Report for the year 2013-14 has been released by AERB in accordance with its mandate to keep the public informed on safety issues of radiological safety significance. Each year AERB publishes its Annual Report, which brings out the safety status of the nuclear and radiation facilities regulated by it and the highlights of its regulatory activities and decisions.

The Annual Report focuses on safety status of Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs), Fuel Cycle Facilities (FCFs) and radiation facilities monitored by AERB. The report includes the highlights of safety review and regulatory inspections carried out by AERB which culminated in the successful commissioning of and power production in India’s first pressurized water reactor at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu. The report also briefs about the progress made in the safety review of indigenously developed Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu and 700 MWe Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) units under construction at Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP) and Rajasthan Atomic Power Project (RAPP). AERB continued to monitor the progress of safety enhancements at operating nuclear power plants post Fukushima accident and the information on the safety measures already implemented in various NPPs have been given in the report. The safety statistics of NPPs and FCFs for the year 2013-14 brings out the following salient information:

• The radiation doses of occupational workers of nuclear facilities were well within the annual dose limit.

• The liquid and gaseous waste discharged to the environment from the operating units were only a small fraction of the allowed Technical Specifications limits for operation.

• The estimated radiation dose to the members of the public near the operating plants is much less than the annual limit of 1 mSv as prescribed by AERB, the maximum being less than 2.8 % for old plant sites and less than 0.1% for new plant sites. The impact of this dose is indistinguishable from natural background radiation.

• No event in the operating NPP has been categorised as an ‘accident’ as per International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES). Of the 33 events reported during the year, 32 were below scale (having no safety significance) and one event was at scale ‘1’ (categorised as ‘anomaly’ i.e. minor problems in components while sufficient defense in depth is remaining).

• Over the years, with constant efforts from AERB and dedicated commitment from utilities, the industrial safety performance of DAE units has improved appreciably.

The report also summarizes the progress of an e-governance initiative taken by AERB through launch of a web-based application ‘e-Licensing of Radiation Applications (e-LORA)’ with the objective to enhance the efficiency and transparency in the regulatory process by utilizing automation of regulatory processes for registration of various radiation facilities, radiation professionals and exchange of information. To begin with e-LORA modules which provide the platform for registration of radiation professionals of radiotherapy practice, registration of radiotherapy utilities and registration of medical diagnostic radiology equipments (x-rays etc) have already been made functional.

The report also highlights AERB’s participation in various international forums including participation and contribution of India in the 6thInternational Review Meeting of Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) held at IAEA, Vienna during March-April 2014 wherein National Report of member countries on safety status of their NPPs and their safety practices were presented and discussed. India’s report was well received. ‘VVER Regulators Forum’ which consists of Regulators dealing with NPPs of VVER type (i.e. of type at Kudankulam), had its last year’s annual meeting in India in December, 2013, under India’s Chairmanship; the details are provided in the report.

India is in the process of subjecting its nuclear regulatory system to international peer review, by hosting an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission of IAEA and has already made a formal request to IAEA for the same. This will be a unique opportunity to benchmark our regulatory practices against international standards. The annual report presents a brief account of the activities completed and in progress with respect to the IRRS mission for India.

AERB continued its efforts towards wider public outreach by conducting and supporting various conferences including press conferences, seminars and meetings in different parts of the country and these efforts have been summarized in the report.

The full report is available on AERB website at following link.

(Text by PIB India)


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